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Air Force tops Washington State 31-21 at Cheez-It Bowl

Wide receiver Dezmon Patmon #12 of the Washington State Cougars celebrates with wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. #8 after scoring on a two yard touchdown reception against the Air Force Falcons during the first half of the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field on December 27, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — Kadin Remsberg ran for 178 yards and stretched to the pylon for a 3-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, lifting No. 24 Air Force to a 31-21 victory over Washington State in the Cheez-It Bowl on Friday night.

The Falcons (11-2) had their triple option working to near perfection, grinding out 371 yards rushing while setting a Cheez-It Bowl time of possession record of 43:24.

Donald Hammond III scored two touchdowns and Remsberg had his fourth-down TD confirmed by review to help the Falcons close the season on an eight-game winning streak.

Anthony Gordon, the FBS passing leader, kept the Cougars within reach, throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Brandon Arconado on a 13-yard TD early in the fourth quarter to pull Washington State (6-7) within 24-21, but the Cougars had no answer for Air Force’s triple-option attack.

The 2018 game was dubbed the Cheez-INT Bowl after TCU and California combined for nine interceptions.

A year later, Air Force and Washington State brought philosophical differences to the desert.

The Falcons like to stay grounded, running 57 times a game while finishing third in the FBS at 292.5 yards per game.

The Cougars love to fly, putting it up 56 times a game to lead the nation with nearly 450 yards a game.

Washington State started the Cheez-It Bowl quickly, racing down the field with a series of completions, only to get stuffed by an Air Force goal-line stand.

The Falcons’ opening drive was a yard-churning, clock-winding grind, covering 98 yards in 20 plays and 12:23. Hammond capped it with a 1-yard TD run.

Air Force’s next two drives took less time combined than the first, ending in Jake Koehnke’s 28-yard field goal and Taven Birdow’s 3-yard run after Gordon lost a fumble at Washington State’s 23.

The Cougars had two more quick-hitting drives to pull within 17-14 at halftime on Gordon’s two TD passes.

Air Force went right back to the ground to open the second half; 13 plays, 75 yards, capped by Hammond’s 7-yard TD run.

Washington State had another fourth-down failure, this one at Air Force’s 5-yard line, but bounced back quickly with Gordon’s TD pass to Arconado.

Remsberg’s diving TD run capped a 60-yard scoring drive to seal it.

THE TAKEAWAY

Air Force won the line of scrimmage and its 11th game of the season, second only to 12-win seasons in 1985 and 1998.

Washington State was hurt by the two failed fourth downs and its inability to decipher Air Force’s triple option.

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